The promoter of the first concert in the U.S. to be announced with coronavirus social-distancing procedures was ordered to call it off – but tickets still remain on sale.
Mike Brown, operator of the TempleLive venue in Fort Smith, Ark., announced the show by country-rock singer Travis McCready last month. Brown said that instead of the official capacity of 1,100, 229 tickets would go on sale, with seating arranged in groups of two to 13, with six feet or more between the groups. Brown described the seats as “fan pods” and noted that other restrictions would be in place, including one-way movement around the venue, special restroom facilities and regular sanitizing procedures.
Earlier this week, McCready admitted he didn’t think the show would go ahead, and that now seems certain after Governor Asa Hutchinson made an order to that effect. “By your proposed actions, you are in violation of the Arkansas public health code,” an official document from the state’s health secretary, Nathaniel Smith, read (via Rolling Stone). “Those rules authorize me, as secretary of health and director of the Arkansas Department of Health, to order you to cease and desist the conduct described above. Your failure to comply with this order and postpone your event to be in compliance with the health directives will result in a violation of the Arkansas public health code.”
“We expect the law to be complied with,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “Our enforcement capacity can utilize local law enforcement, because this is an enforceable order that we have in place. And there could be other remedies as well.” He added that those steps might not be necessary. “I would think that the patrons, when they know that the concert should not happen under Department of Health guidelines, that they’d use good judgment and not attend.”
However, Brown presented a non-conciliatory attitude in his own statement, suggesting that if McCready was instead performing at a church two blocks from the venue, the show would be allowed to proceed. Tickets for the event, priced $20, remained on sale at time of writing, with 58 still available. Brown said he will have more to say on the subject soon. You can see his initial response below.